In this opening month of the New Year, we ponder the theme of discipleship. Using the biblical account of Jesus and the Twelve Disciples as our example, we have noted discipleship for them began, as for us, as a matter of coming to Christ in personal faith. This initial coming to Christ is to be followed by the enriching blessing of following Christ throughout the rest of our earthly time. This following after Christ means living our lives in fellowship with Him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Living a life of spiritual fellowship with Christ through the Spirit involves for us the wonderful blessing of learning from Him. Such was the experience of the original Twelve who had the privilege of hearing Jesus teach and preach in the days of His flesh. In fact, the word disciple means a learner or student. Ancient teachers and philosophers gathered a group of learners around them to teach them by precept and by example.
The original Twelve were not highly schooled. In fact, people marveled that they were basically uneducated and untrained men, realizing only that “they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Their distinctiveness was their openness toward Jesus and their willingness to follow Him, observing Him and listening to Him.
As disciples, the Twelve learned from the Master Teacher, who used parables and commandments, analogies and explanations, as well as Old Testament symbols and types as entryways for them into divine truth. The Twelve were like apprentices, learning on the job as they observed how Jesus conducted Himself and how He related to people — both to friends and to enemies.
Study His words
We who become Christ’s followers are also to be His learners. We study His words and meditate on His teachings, as well as ponder His actions and attitudes. We pray for guidance to know how those teachings and His example are to inform to our manner of living. To this end, we go to church, engage in Bible studies, chat with fellow believers and in multiple other ways seek to learn all we can about all that Jesus would teach us.
Learning from Jesus involves more than gaining information and insights. It includes becoming increasingly more Christlike in ways the Bible describes as “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–23).
It is also a matter of attitude and behavior.